I just wrapped up my first Startup Weekend. I've wanted to go to one of these events for a couple years now and I never made it a priority. I finally decided it was something I needed to do so I signed up in January as a reward for finishing the Blogging for Benjamin Competition. I met some amazing people and learned some valuable lessons so it was totally worth it. And oh yeah – we also launched a startup and got 2nd place overall. We're called VigorUs. 🙂
Meet Your Peers
Perhaps the best part of Startup Weekend was meeting more people in my industry. I've happily donned “the WordPress guy” mantle in Green Bay but there are so many amazing entrepreneurial people in Green Bay that I haven't had the chance to meet because they might not hang out in the same circles that I do. I met designers, developers, and business / marketing people from all over the Green Bay area that all have really impressive ideas and skills. It's great to occasionally get out of the WordPress world and look at what else is going on.
Learn New Skills
Our team consisted of a rails developer, a python developer, a designer, and myself (proficient with WordPress, CodeIgniter, & PHP). Finding a common technology to work on was a challenge. And using Django (python) for the backend meant that I had the opportunity to sharpen my front end developer skills. I was able to use BootStrap V3 which I haven't used since V2 (released over a year ago) & LESS. I also got to take a peek at Django when I took the barebones templates and styled them.
Minimum Viable Product
Something you hear in the startup world all the time is MVP, or minimum viable product. The process to boil a complex idea into a executable product was very challenging. All of us had different ideas for VigorUs and we all had to concede on certain points. We did a pretty great job cutting out all of the extra features and focused entirely on getting a working prototype by the end of the week. We were only one a few teams to have a working prototype and in the judge's comments this was one of their criteria.
I had a great time. I'm definitely coming back for the next event. I may even head over to Madison for their next Startup Weekend.